Property Repossessions: If you can't pay, you can't stay?

Property Repossessions: If you can't pay, you can't stay?

Property Repossessions: If you can't pay, you can't stay?

The High Courts have witnessed an “avalanche” of possession orders since September as the first wave of moratoriums against pursuing mortgage arrears by Sub-prime lenders ended. Some 18 repossessions were granted in the High Court on Tuesday of this week, the highest number in a single day this year.

Many believe that it is fair to … repossess if a borrower cannot repay his or her loan, as the loan was taken out in full knowledge of the terms and conditions applicable.

However some ask: What do the Banks have to gain by repossessing houses in the present climate? Would it not be better for the banks to come to a renting arrangement with their customers, with a long term view to these people being able to restart their repayments when their situation improves? Would the home-owner support scheme proposed by Fine Gaels Richard Bruton not be more beneficial for both homeowners and lenders where NAMA would take an equity share in a home after negotiating a write-down in the outstanding debt with the bank or mortgage provider?

Have your say:

  • Repossessions: If you can’t pay, you can’t stay? Or
  • Should lenders come to new repayment arrangements to help homeowners in financial difficulty?
There are 43 comments for this article
  1. Larry at 12:45 pm

    This country has been rife with greed and oppurtunism by certain sectors of society for many years, politicians, bankers and many in the private sector who built up nice portfolios of property in the “good times”…well, if you can’t rent your second, third or fourth house because of the crash don’t come crying to those of us who have one house (public sector workers in the main) in which we live and raise a family…but hey don’t forget its the public sector worker who got us into this mess…that greedy, useless, talentless group of workers who pose a huge threat to all society with their huge pay packets and expensive lifestyles…i must go and count my gold bars

  2. Paul Browne at 12:23 pm

    Mainly true but many overextended themselves due to pure Vanity and Greed. I know plenty who bought huge homes to shopw off to their families and friends and to say “look at me in my McMansion”..pure folly.

  3. Paul Browne at 12:22 pm


    I love Sarcasm!

  4. Esther at 11:54 am

    Well Said..This country is a joke..we are so quick to pledge millions to this disaster and that disaster that we have forgotten about our own people..e.g. who offered to help the three couples on the late late show before christmas whose houses were being repossessed? They were being made homeless because they had lost their jobs through no fault of their own..I didnt hear any politicians pledge money to their plight!! I for one believe charity begins at home..There are genuine cases of people in this country who are going to bed CRYING..getting up CRYING and praying for MIRACLES..The banks should’nt be bailed out unless they are prepared to help people in trouble..and the politicians should stand up for these people..We did employ these politicians and they should be WORKING FOR US!This country will never be right unless we start looking after our own first.. and to all those perfect people out there who have paid off their mortgages and whatever loans they had and are still fortunate enough to have a job please spare a thought for the rest of us WITHOUT CRITICISING about how we got in to this mess..look up EMPATHIZE in the dictionary!

  5. Robert Browne at 12:49 am

    The country is bankrupt it is too late to have a bank inquiry. The horse has bolted run over a cliff and is dead! If we are to have an inquiry now, it has to be titled “Why and How Ireland bacame bankrupt”.

    It has to be carried out by foreigners because we are too corrupt, too stupid to ascertain and admit the extent of our own fraud and Ponzi schemes which continue unabated even as we speak in the form of NAMA the state toxic asset company which through alchemy will turn toxic assets into pure gold for the chosen few. Banana republic unless we can get this lot out and reform politics in Ireland as we despise it.

    NAMA is a disease and unless we defeat it, it will defeat us and we are doomed to debt slavery!

  6. Shane Keogh at 1:29 pm

    Is it not time that we as people and not mindless drones decided it was time to simply start boycotting banks and systems that hold humanity in sheer contempt? It is all well and good to suggets that banks are right to be unethical without any humanity, because that is simply how business works. But if YOU were the person losing your home, wouldn’t YOU like to be shown some compassion? Are ANY of you even aware of the fatc that the Department Of The Taoiseach is actually a REGISTERED CORPORATION? as are the Courts, the Police the Prisons, they all exist for profit and if you do not believe that go to and search under Ireland for taoiseach and Gardai etc.

    Your Taoiseach is the CEO of a Corporation which as you may be well aware has PRIVATE SHAREHOLDERS (IE THE BANKS)

  7. Robert Browne at 5:05 am

    These products or mortgages bought were supposed to be regulated by the financial regulator, they were not and that alone should invalidate the mortgages. Yes, a mortgage is a death pledge but when it becomes apparent that the pledge given took place in an aqueous environment of insider trading, banks borrowing billions to make it look like deposits on their books, government undermining peoples investments by offering inducements (tax breaks) to developers so that they could prop up taxes, you wonder about the ability of the law to enforce such pledges.

    People should be able to bring class actions for negligence by the banks and financial institutions.

    The rules were not adhered to by banks who inflated property prices by criminal lending practices. Now, they come crying to a taxpayer who practically owns them for the amount of money they have had to pump in and they say…but you must keep Your promise. Strange, they did not keep theirs.

  8. Harry at 6:03 pm

    The use of the High Court for the purpose of house repossessions is like using a “hammer to crack a wee nut”. The judges must take an strict line according to law- the costs of High Court proceeding are excessive and these cases should be taken through the Circuit Courts- The problem is that banks do not want to take cases through the Circuit Courts because it takes too long to get their order for possessions. The other advantage for the borrower is that the costs associated with the Circuit Courts are much smaller. In this current economic environment the banks should be made wait for their order and give the client every opportunity – However if the property is vacant and abandoned the banks have always a right to take vacant possession without protracted court proceedings-

  9. jack at 9:50 pm

    i dont understand why everyone is blaming the banks! Where was the financial regulator?? If people, who WANTED a mortage, new car, holidays etc didnt get a loan from one institutation they just went down the street and got it elsewhere
    The financial regulator should have laid down the ground rules and made sure that ALL the financial institutations followed them NO ONE was forced to take out loans In fact there was probably great celebrations all round for the new house , car etc
    The government squandered more money than anyone and did not Save for a rainy day
    Look at the lovely knitting needle in the middle of O Connell street 5 Million FAS directors getting nearly 2 million between them and that was only 2 people!!!!!!
    The banks had to borrow AND pay for the money they lent out to customers and its people who have defaulted on their loans which has fueled the need to BORROW from the government and this has to be PAID back at a high cost to the government Have a think about it Its the people who have forced this situtation

  10. jf at 8:21 pm

    I’ve a slightly varied version on Richard Bruton’s suggestion for people unable to make their full, agreed repayments.
    Say they owe €300,000 and cannot make their full repayments.
    Let the government via Dept of Social Welfare take an agreed percentage stake in the property and holds on to it until paid.
    The Dept becomes a joint owner of the property and the ownership is recorded via PPS number.
    If death occurs, the Dept of Social Welfare recoups the equity on sale.
    The Dept could use the property (if vacant) to house people on its waiting list.
    The Dept will give back the property if the loan is paid back in full.
    This move will encourage people to stay in their homes; make affordable repayments based on means tests and market rates; have more stay-at-home retirees; alleviate the accomodation / care stress in nursing homes; put a stop to repossessions for people in short-term repayment difficulty.

    A person who has lost their job; or who has been put on a 3-day week; or who has had to take a pay cut; or who’s earning partner had died / separated would greatly benefit from this move.

    It’s not that it can’t be done…’s that it won’t be done. Surely, if there’s a will…..there’s a way !

  11. J.G at 6:05 pm

    Daniel Duggan who wrote the following is living in another dimension:
    ‘Our tax money is not to be used to support people who gambled on property and lost whether they are a bank, a developer or a house owner. No one was ever forced to buy a house as there has been during all the years of the boom in prices many thousand of houses available for rent in every part of Ireland. When people buy rather than rent they made a decision to accept a risk in return for a potential profit. Now the market is returning to normal, why should I and other taxpayers be obliged to compensate grown adults for their profit driven badly judged purchase decisions?’

    To my knowledge only a tiny percentage of people buy a house for its profit potential , most people buy a house as a home, somewhere to start a family, somewhere to raise children. The profit accrues to our society in the forms of political and social stability. When houses are considered solely in economic terms, the result is inevitable, as we have all seen. The financial and social costs of repossessions are far, far greater than anyone realises, and our politicians and bankers will be well advised to do everything they can to prevent repossessions

  12. donny at 4:23 pm

    No, if they bail out the people who bought risky mortgages at the expense of those of us who were financially responsible, then I will just emigrate because I will not be paying for their mistakes while not even having a house of my own.

  13. WaitingForMyOwnHome at 11:52 am

    Yea, sure, I don’t mind my tax money being used to help out these folks, [b]on the condition[/b], that the government come to a similar agreement with helping me to buy my own place now of course. 🙂
    Fair is Fair!

    I listened to David McWilliams and I’ve sat it out on the sidelines since 2004. Thats [u]5 years[/u] of renting. Making [u]someone else[/u] wealthy. 5×12 months of €800 to €1000 per month = [u]About €50,000 in rent over 5 years.[/u]
    I’m nearly 28. Myself and my partner have [b]WAITED[/b] to start a family, worked hard and paid plenty of taxes.


    If these people get bailed out for being irresponsible (just like the irresponsible bankers), and I’m left sitting on the sidelines, yet again, with nothing to sweeten my deal, well then just remember!:

    [i]I didn’t buy into this mess!, so I’ve nothing [u]tying [/u]me here to this country. €50k and 5 years of my life, thats the opportunity cost of [u]mobility[/u][/i]

    [b]I will gladly emigrate with my GF and take my skills and my taxes to another country if I am screwed over.[/b]

  14. C at 10:25 am

    I don’t think they are cultivating cynicism, I think their blog posts are well balanced offering a place where the public can express their views and opinions on a certain subject.

  15. Phyllis Murphy at 1:51 pm

    Organise a group of HSE managers to report on the banking problem, seriously look at their proposals and immediately put into practice the exact opposite – sorted.

  16. ANDY at 1:24 am


  17. Mickey at 1:10 am

    I think anyboby who fails to keep up their mortgage repayments and their obligations to the BAnks and developers should be ashamed of themselves. The Banks were very kind to those people who lent them the money to buy their properties and look what the banks are left with now. People moaning. I wish they would repossess all homes and give the benefit to the banks because without the banks we are doomed. The banks are very good to people and the embarressment of not paying a mortgage is awful. If someone lost their job thats not the banks fault it is clearly the fault of the employee for not working hard enogh to keep the company they worked for afloat. It does not matter how people get the money so long as they do not leave the banks short of it. MORTGAGE REPAYMENTS COME BEFORE EVERYTHING ELSE dont forget it. Food electricity health care etc are not importnat only the repayments to the banks are. There is excellent value in houses and Apartments out there according to the Estate Agents an they are never wrong about anything. I think all people should be put into jail if they miss one payment to the Bank and be made apologise to the Bank for the trouble they caused the bank in having to recover from defaulters. The Courts should be more helpful to the Banks and help the banks get their money back from all those lazy and greedy people who were given money to buy their houses and now they wont pay it back. No wonder the country is in the state it is when the banks are being treated like dirt. It is a disgrace. How are the Top directors going to manage without Bonus payments as defaulters refuse to pay their debts?. My heart goes out to the families of Bankers and Top directors, Developers, Estate Agents and solicitors who have to suffer huge losses because people wont pay. I think the Government should help the banks and go after the people who dont pay their mortgages and not only reposess the property but also punish them in other ways by never letting them get a loan again. The Courts are too lenient and let people away with so much instead of protecting the interests of the banks. It is wrong wrong wrong, have you no shame? ANY money people have should go directly to banks to help them during this recession and extra charges taxes and further interest payments should be paid over to banks for the trouble and losses that the banks have suffered at the hands of greedy public who have taken advantage of the banks kindness and generosity. Only in Ireland do you ever see such greed. The banks are being put under a lot of pressure and it is awful to think that some bank staff will have to cut the amount of money they spend on themselves all because of people not paying up. My neighbour who is in a bank said she had to cancel her hairdressing appointment and cup of coffee in the BT Cafe because she was late chasing up someone on the phone who was in arrears with their mortgage. That was a disgrace. What are the Government doing about this?. My neighbour was due to attend the hairdressers and had to cancel it, I cannot accept such consequences befalling Bank oficials who are forced to loose benefit simply because of a greedy memebr of the public who is in arrears of payments , some cases more than 2 months in arrears. The embarressment alone is too much to bear.The only solution is to kick out people on the street and when they get money they can buy again at competitive prices for example a studio appartment ground floor with generous space of 12 square foot for euro 895,000 which is good value for money according to an Estate Agent I know. When are property prices going to go up again?. Another estae agent said the markets has bottomed out so it must be true if the estate agent said it. I long for the days when I can say my neighbour sold for 7,5 million euro. People better start to cough up the money or go away. Our banks are not being treated with the honour and respect they deserve. pay up or get out. The banks have put up with ye all for far too long.

  18. mae at 10:56 pm

    lenders and banks dont want to help people who have difficulty in paying their’s not our choice to be in this kind of situation.we are paying our mortgages in any way we can. we are only asking lenders and banks to give us some ways to lighten our burden.we are not asking them for big favors.all we need is to maybe reduce our monthly payment or make a new agreement..but they have no heart to hear our grievances.

  19. idij at 10:20 pm

    Why would the state want to gain equity in someone’s (quarter or half a million euro) home? It’s nuts.

    The state has no business preserving the value of private sector assets (including banks and property both).

    It has an obligation to provide security, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, something that every cent spent on the whole fiasco is directly preventing. It’s all real money that you, me and our great grandchildren will spend the rest of our extended to 70yrs working lives paying off.

    You know what would happen if the banks went bust, and the assets sold to the highest bidder? Not a damn thing that wouldn’t be 100 times better than what they are legislating for now. It’s robbery, plain and simple.

  20. William Nagle at 9:59 pm

    the banks should agree to leave people in their homes takeing payments that do not have interest charges added to them makeing things harder for familys that are all ready on the bread line

  21. Fiona at 6:30 pm

    I think it is disgraceful that banks are clamping down on the people who borrowed from them in good faith. Why should the very people who built all the houses be bailed out (and left with a beautiful home to live in) and the honest, hardworking nation and their families put under the demeaning and overwhelmingingly stressful situation of having no home. It’s truly shocking what is going on in this country and getting scarier to live here by the day. Last one out turn off the lights!!

  22. Judith Finlay at 5:51 pm

    What a load of rubbish this economy is based on! The banks are salvaged by governments paying out tax payers money to save them, then they cream profits from interest rates that people can’t afford to pay back, all because they are so bad at business they have essentially caused this recession. The banks should be seriously held accountable for the current crisis and there is no way they should be the ones benefiting from the fact that people can no longer afford to pay their mortgages. It’s disgusting

  23. Margaret farrell at 5:28 pm

    Yes, I agree that most borrowers were fully aware of the conditions surrounding their respective mortgages [quote][/quote]when they bought their homes. However, mass repossession in this climate seems to me, to compound the financial problems, both for the borrower and the lender. Having been in the lending business for several years in the U.K. especially during the 80’s when repossessions were rife there, and when borrowers deposited the keys through our letterbox on a daily basis out of sheer desparation, I would not recommend it. Not withstanding the fact that we had several properties on numerous Estates falling into disrepair and vandalised nightly, and the unfortunate borrower, either residing with relatives, or in hostels, paid for by the Social Welfare system, thus adding to the overall financial burden. Also if and when the properties were sold, the borrowers was also held accountable for the shortfall, and were actively pursued for the funds later on.

    My solution would be as follows:-

    (1) Value the property at present day valuation.
    (2) Calculate the interest on that valuation, and charge as rent.
    (3) Agree a term for this agreement with the borrower, (say 5years)
    review valuation on an annual basis, to establish what increase in
    value has been achieved, and increase the rent accordingly. Then
    when the five years are up, allow the mortgage to be reinstated,
    at the then value, and allow a discount for the years during which
    the property was on the rental agreement.
    (4) You are left with a well maintained property, a family able to
    cope, a lender who still has good security for the loan, and no
    burden on the state.

  24. Joe Kenny at 4:57 pm

    We must all honour our obligations, even if mislead by greedy lenders, estate agents and irresponsible property journalists. Yes, the taxpayer should support those in most need, but not to let the system be abused. The housing rent supplement from the HSE which is being blatently abused.

    I sold a property in June 2006 for €260K as I expected the bubble to burst. Unfortunately, I put the proceeds into BoI shares – my own bad judgement! I was relying on income from this to now top up my small public service pension. I hope the government can resist nationalising the bank and destroying small shareholders like myself and many, many other pensioners. Even though I only had 21 years pensionable service, I can get by with it and the generous (compared to other countries including the UK) State Retirement pension since last week. I always paid full PRSI and with 6.5% pension contribution this came to a total 13.75%.

    NAMA must be made to work. The legislation on it will most probably need fine tuning as experience is gained in implementation. Support for GENUINE hardship by persons with negative equity will need to be borne in mind by NAMA.

    I wish the media, including the parent company of would encourage support for it rather than cultivate populism and cynicism.

    Joe Kenny

  25. Eddie at 4:53 pm

    Its a bit naive but I would support Sean.

  26. Steve at 4:50 pm

    The government should insist that any institutions under the Guarantee should not be allowed to repossess under any circumstances.They should let borrowers pay off their mortgages under less stressful terms.As for those subprime lenders who insist on repossessing,the government should impose punitive tariffs on them if they want to trade in this State.These businessess should be driven out of the State.Minister Mary Hanafin should also look at building more local authority stock.The Department of Social and Family Affairs should also work in tandem with the Department of Finance to rehouse the homeless with the empty housing stock that they will get from Nama.That would only be fair,after all they bailed out the banks.Now its the people’s turn to get help.

  27. Eddie at 4:49 pm

    I cannt understand why it wouldnt be better option to be governed by IMF? let it go against the wall, whats there to salvage? old bodies, cronies, irish establishment? we are gonna pay too high a price for saving a few bodies. Makes no difference to me be it IMF or the governemtn provided there is some element of fairness and accountability.

  28. David Lennon at 3:36 pm

    The Banks should pay for their greed by taking the hit on Mortgages. They MUST leave people in severe financial difficulty alone. They begged the Government (i.e. us the Taxpayers) for a bailout and got it, now its over to them.

  29. Jennifer Leech at 2:19 pm

    There is another side to that very harsh judgement. There are people who bought houses 15 years ago and have now suffered job losses. These were decent, hardworking people who were not out to gamble but are people who have geniunely fallen on difficult times. I believe each situation is different and should be treated as such. There are people in this country who are in dire financial circumstances not of there own making.

  30. Sean at 2:18 pm

    Most people in Ireland are not financial guru’s so they rely on advice. The government, the banks, the economists (three or four exceptions) and the construction industry all sang the same tune (prices will never fall, safe as houses, get on the ladder now or it might be never, etc.) and anyone saying anything different was told to commit suicide and told to stop talking down the economy. If all the “experts” are saying something then it is difficult to blame those who needed advice for believing the advice.

    Throw into the equation that, aside from those that over-extended themselves due to the collective bad advice, at least 350,000 people appear to have lost their jobs in the last two years and I haven’t seen statistics around repossessions yet to suggest whether those being repossessed were those who over-extended or those who lost their jobs. As a result, suggesting that those “who gambled on property and lost” don’t deserve our tax payers money is more than a little harsh, particularly as our tax money is now being directed by some of those who gave the bad advice (government) to their colleagues in crime who also gave the bad advice (banks and arguably builders). I would far prefer our tax money to be directed at those who’s only offense was believing the expert’s or losing their jobs as a result of those same expert’s mismanagement of the economy.

  31. Victor Hart at 2:00 pm

    Having paid my mortage, honoured my all financial commitments and paid all due taxes throughout my career, I do NOT agree that the government (aka the taxpayers) have should make it easy for those who made foolish purchases to renage, even led by the nose by irresponsible lenders.

    There is alrady an agreement between the government and the major lenders for a moratorium of 6 months arrears for genuine cases of hardship, which may well be extended. However, there are many out there who would abuse a more liberal arrangement.

    Of course, stressed borrowers should seek to renogiate terms. In the interest of fairness, and to give proper perspective, you should make your readers aware that the bulk of the relatively small number of repossessions that have recently been in courts are largely taken by one particular “sub-prime” lender who had taken on particularly bad risks at very high interest rate. The majority of the rest are long term defaulters.

    Victor Hart

  32. Declan Healy at 1:52 pm

    I agree it’s unfair that taxpayers are in danger of losing homes to banks that are unwilling to be flexible about repayment terms even though the banks have been rescued by the taxes of some of the very people losing the homes. I can’t see any reason why lenders would not want to be as flexible as possible to ensure that they recoup the full value of the loan they have given – even if it means that it is paid off over a longer period of time. However the adage comes to mind….if you owe the bank a hundred thousand euro, it’s your problem, but if you owe the bank a hundred million, it’s the bank’s problem…..

  33. ian at 1:37 pm

    time the poor bankers and poor ministers were put out on social welfare – then we might get some help for the really needy of this country !!!

  34. Pat Joyce at 1:07 pm

    That’s ridiculous. All tax payers in this country are supporting the banks with Lenhihans decision to hand billions over to them. The majority of peeople who buy houses buy them to live in and possibly raise a family, and they are not, “profit driven badly judged purchade decisions”.

    As the failed banks are being propped up by the tax payer it is grotesquely obscene for them to be foreclosing on the very people who bailed them out.

    Your commentt are very bitter and unrealistic.

  35. aoife at 1:06 pm

    For god sake help these people out .. They have been able to pay their mortgage every month up until the bad times / or they lost there jobs . T The banks should come to some agreement with them in terms of there income ( to pay some amount). This country is becoming unbearable to live in .. Putting people on the streets what next ??

  36. J.G at 12:47 pm

    Empty houses benefit no-one: currently there is no demand for new housing because of over-supply and that means house prices continue to fall. Adding even more empty houses to the market keeps prices down, that means there is no incentive for builders to get back into business they know. No builders = less revenue and more unemployed, it’s truly a vicious circle. Add in the cost of security / maintenance of an empty house or apartment to the re-posessor, and that’s more dead money! Sadly our Government has no imagination in this matter, but as we all know the folks who knock down a house (or an economy) are never, ever the best guys to rebuid it!

  37. Ashling at 12:47 pm

    Oh really,
    Are these the only two options we’ve been given as a country?

    1. Evict thousands of people from their homes because they have lost their jobs, or

    2. Condemn generations to huge tax surges due to a project that has neither forsight nor public interest at heart?

    If that’s all that’s on offer, I think people will find themselves looking at emmigration as better option for their future.

  38. Ken at 12:45 pm

    One difficulty with reposessions that I understand, is that if the institution cannot recoup its loan from the proceeds of the sale, the borrower still owes the balance between the sale price and the loan.

    When taking out a mortgage, the lending institution insists on a valuation for them being carried out. They accept that valuation prior to issuing a mortgage.

    In the event that a borrower cannot repay a loan, the bank should not be able to maintain that the entire loan is still owed if the value of the property at that time is less than the loan balance, as the bank agreed to the valuation of the property at the time of the loan.

    This sharing of the risk between borrower and lender would be another disincentive to financial institutions to go to the ultimate of repossessing a property. For simplicity, this could be limited to people’s primary residence and to protect the institutions from unscrupulous borrowers, the borrower could be banned from taking out a mortgage for a period of say 10 years.

  39. PAUL at 12:41 pm


  40. michael gaynor at 12:40 pm

    screw the banks – they have screwed the people already

  41. Stephen Hamilton at 12:36 pm

    I think that Mortgage Lenders will, out of neccessity more than anything else have to renegotiate mortgages that are in arrears, especially if the property is in negative equity.

    The lender will be faced with two choices.

    1/ Renegotiate the mortgage and in so doing write off some of the debt and reduce the customers repayment

    2/ Repossess the property and make a bigger loss if they are lucky enough to find a buyer.

    Its unlikely that the banks will make any of these renegotiations public in the fear that it will encourage mortgage holders in negative equity to go into arrears and try to renegotiate their debt.

  42. Daniel Duggan at 12:36 pm

    Our tax money is not to be used to support people who gambled on property and lost whether they are a bank, a developer or a house owner. No one was ever forced to buy a house as there has been during all the years of the boom in prices many thousand of houses available for rent in every part of Ireland. When people buy rather than rent they made a decision to accept a risk in return for a potential profit. Now the market is returning to normal, why should I and other taxpayers be obliged to compensate grown adults for their profit driven badly judged purchase decisions?

  43. Bernie Hourihane at 12:23 pm

    With the help our lending institutions have got from the tax payer I think they should come to new arrangements to help.

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